Is happiness appropriate on ANZAC Day?

Is happiness appropriate on ANZAC Day?

I have to admit that I always approach and experience ANZAC Day with mixed feelings. You see my paternal grandfather, with whom I had a very close and special relationship, was an ANZAC. He fought and was permananently disabled in WWI. 

But he rarely, if ever, spoke about his experiences and if/when he did it was pretty much to say…war is bad! 

I only ever remember him participating in the annual march once, and that was under duress, because he didn't believe in celebrating such terrible events. In fact in hindsight all I think he wanted to do was forget…not to remember. 

That being said we typically, when he was alive, gathered together as a family on ANZAC day and so I have, in a strange way, fond memories of this date. And the last thing I'd ever want to do would be to disrespect such an auspicous occasion with trivialities or insults. 

So how should I experience ANZAC Day? 

Well, there really shouldn't be any shoulds (and I fully note the irony in that previous statement) but I do believe ANZAC Day can be, for me anyway, a day of happiness and I believe it for the following reasons. 

Firstly, if we define happiness as an experience that involves, but is much more than positive emotion then happiness comes to mean joy and pleasure PLUS engagement with life AND connection with others AND meaning and purpose AND accomplishment. 

All of these are, I believe, directly relevant to ANZAC Day and although I don't like the idea of celebrating war I do believe in celebrating so many other aspects of what this special day stands for including…

  • the incredible mateship we so often hear about and witnessed during those times

  • the achievements and accomplishments of so many who struggled against so much 

  • the invitation to celebrate life and treasure our loved ones 

  • the meaning and purpose that we can all take from the horrible experiences which I'd love to think will minimise the chances of such attrocities and loss occuring again 

  • the strengths that were exhibited such as courage and valour, committment and love, and so so much more

So taking all of this into account, I do believe ANZAC Day can be a day of happiness…all we need to do is define happiness in the "right" way. And this is an important message for all of us at other times of the year (in fact for all of the year) as well! 

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